Monday, July 6, 2015

Things that make you go "hmm"

Well, I've now been home for 18 days and it's good to be back! I've been enjoying the familiar people and food and language. I've been told that my english hasn't been perfect but I'm working on it!
This will probably be my last post so I thought I'd share some of the strange or funny things I saw, heard, or was asked.
Things that made me go hmm:

* A man walking around in just his underwear
I think it was my second week there when we were driving to the store and I saw a man, in nothing but underwear, walking down the street. No one gave him a second look besides me.

* Have you ever seen a banana?
Yes, I had seen a banana before. I let them know that they were quite common in America.

* Washington DC is in Washington State, right?
NOOOOO! I was asked this question so many times! Some people even asked me multiple times!

* 'I have wind out my ass'
My music teacher didn't speak any english but every week he learned a new sentence and would tell me as soon as I came into class. I guess the person teaching him these phrases decided to mess with him. I laughed for a good while before I caught me breath enough to explain to my confused teacher why I was laughing!

* Do you want to buy an otter?
I had just switched host family and we were going grocery shopping. When we left the store and got in the car, my host turned to me and asked me if I wanted to buy an otter. I sure she was mixing up her english but I never did figure out what she meant to say instead of otter!

* Did you bring a monkey?
Was visiting my friend in Bangkok and her mom was taking us to her house when she asked if I brought a monkey. I told her that no I did not which seemed to confuse her. Turns out she thought I was living in Lopburi (the monkey province) but I still didn't understand her question. Even if I did live there, I doubt I would travel with a monkey!

* Is Washington a new state?
After informing my school's headmaster that DC is not in Washington State he then asked if Washington was new. Apparently it's not a well know state in Thailand.

* 'You would make a great KKK member'
This was part of one of my favorite conversations this year! We were in english conversation class with the American teacher when he asked one of the students "Why do thai people not like black skin?" The student replied "black skin look dirty." The teacher then said "You would make a great KKK member" No one else got it but my teacher and I had a good laugh.

Hope you enjoyed this little look into some of the funny thing I experienced in Thailand!  I love all the people I met and the places I went and the things I got to try! This year was absolutely amazing and if I could go back I wouldn't change a thing!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Going home

Thoughts I had while on the airplanes home:
  • OMG! I'm actually going home!
  • Thailand is really pretty from the sky!
  • What if I never get to come back here (cry)
  • Should I sleep? I probably should, but nah.
  • Ooooh, movies!
  • I'm so tired of sitting!
  • Oh no! My plane is late! What if I don't make it to my connection? What if it leaves without me?!
  • Yes! I made it!
  • I wonder why the people sitting next to me where in South Korea?
  • This year was so amazing! Thank you Thailand for being my home for a year. 
  • How is there still 8 hours left? It feels like its been longer than that!
  • Would you stop turning on your dang light! People are trying to sleep!
  • Hmmm. This food isn't that bad.
  • Finally! Can I please get off this plane now!
Well, after 10 months and 11 days I have returned back home to America. I will miss Thailand and my friends but I'm glad to be back home with my family and in my house! 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Farewell my friends

These last few days was rather sad. It finally became real that the year is coming to an end. We had our farewell party last Thursday. It was the very last time that we all got to see each other and be together before we start leaving. It was filled with tears, hugs, and tones of pictures. We all had to write speeches and those are what really set off the water works. Everyone was saying how great this year was and how much we all love each other. It was the beginning of the end. :(
Then we had the first exchange student leave on Saturday fallowed by two more on Sunday. I went to the airport to send off each of them and had a really hard time not crying. I am going to miss them so much! This is the hardest part of the year by far! Realizing that I may never see these people again, these amazing people who have experienced so much with me. We've become a family here and now we're saying goodbye after such a short time together!
I can't believe that in just 8 days it will be me getting on a plane to go home! I am so excited to hug my parents and sleep in my bed and speak english but I can't help but be terribly sad to leave Thailand. I love the people here, both thai and rotary, and the food and the culture!
But as my friend Israel said "We need to take the next step in our lives. Plus, we can't come back until we leave."

Dressed up for good bye party at the Bangkok sky bar!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Not our night

Me at the concert!
Last night just wasn't our night for good luck. I guess we had too much fun this last week and the universe decided it had to balance it out.
I spent three days in Lopburi with Danielle (from Colorado) and Sabrina (from Brazil) watching movies, eating, and sleeping. It was great to just sit and talk and spend time together doing normal stuff. Then On Friday we went to an awesome concert on Bangkok! We stayed up all night having fun with most of the other YEs! And on Saturday we went to see Pitch Perfect 2! It's fantastic and you should definitely watch it!

Then everything started going wrong.

Danielle and I were going back home but we missed the last vans for the night. So we went to the bus station all the way in the northern part of Bangkok. But we're too late and can't get a bus back to either of our houses. So, we start calling our friends who live in Bangkok but only one answers and she lives on the complete opposite end of the city and it would take hours to get there. We ended up staying in the bus station all night. And for some reason they don't want people to charge their phones there so there aren't any outlets! We found what is probably the only outlet left in the building and shortly after plugging in our phones a security guard told us we could use it! We attempted to sleep on the benches in the station but it was too uncomfortable and there was a small child constantly making noise! That was our second night in a row with no sleep! We were exhausted!

Finally this morning we got on the first van home at 5am. I got home at 6:30 and went to sleep instantly.
I never want to sleep in a bus station again!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

DC and SAT

I finally have a couple minutes to myself to sit and write about what's up! I thought I'd have a week after the North trip and final dance class to relax a bit and get ready for the district conference but as always, I was wrong!
You see, I arrived home after the last dance class on Sunday the 19th and the very next day I got a temporary room mate! My sister Ice had another YE she met in Brazil from district 3340 visiting! It was so fun! We spent a day a dream world, an amusement park in Bangkok, riding awesome rides and eating greasy food! There was also a snow dome there and we went sledding!!
Since Ice had classes, I got to spent a lot of time with Julia (the visiting YE)! Took her to Bangkok for a couple days of shopping! We spent way too much money and she got to meet some of the other students in my district at the mall! It's amazing how even though we just met and hardly know each other, it feels like we've been friends for years! Being exchange students connects us in an incredible way!
After spending five days with Julia it was time for me to got o the District Conference (DC). I got on the bus at the joyful time of 6am and we were off! For most of our time there we didn't really do much. We sat at the back in our blazers until lunch and after lunch we left to get ready for our show! This was the start of the not so fun time. At least, for the girls! The guys seemed to enjoy laughing at what the girls were going through! We had to squeeze into these tiny dance costumes that we could hardly breath in only to have the dance instructor tighten it and sew it closed! Then we had to have our hair yanked into the tightest ponytails known to man and put into hair pieces that were secured by bobby pins jammed into our heads! The final torture was the pound of make-up plastered onto our faces! All this was finished at about 3pm and we didn't perform until 8pm! But what a relief it was to take it all off!
My advice to future exchange students to 3350: Beware the District Conference!
The next day we got to visit the Pattaya Floating Market on the way back to Bangkok! And once we got back most of us went to Hector's house because none of us wanted to got home yet! I spent two days there hanging out with the other YEs. Then I decided I should get home, plus I needed clean clothes!
And finally I went to take the SAT yesterday! I went to Bangkok on Friday, stayed in a very nice youth hostel, and on Saturday went to take the terrible test. But I feel like I did pretty well! I guess I'll find out in 18 days!
I'd say that now I get to spend some time relaxing but something is bound to come up!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Song Kran Festival :D

That's right! I just got back from another awesome trip! This time we spent nine days touring the north of Thailand! There were 55 people traveling on 1 bus from Bangkok all the way to Chiang Mai (which is like 445 miles)! There were stops along the way at a ceramic factory where I got to paint a mug and the opium museum which tells about the history of opium in Asia and does not give out samples, much to some of the guys disappointment! We also stopped at the three way river that connects Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand and saw the foreign gardens. This garden has flowers from other countries (mostly America and Western Europe) which amazed the thai students but were fairly normal for all the inbound students.
We also visited temples a lot! We went to one almost every day! My favorite was the White Temple which is supposedly the path to heaven. Unfortunately it was raining so we couldn't go in but the outside was absolutely gorgeous!
Ready for Song Kran!
Finally day 5 we reached Chiang Mai and had a blast in Song Kran Festival! This festival is to celebrate thai new years! And I must say, they know how to celebrate new years in Thailand! For three days we got to soak people and get soaked! We even got to hang out with exchange students from the north and east Rotary districts!
My favorite thing this trip was going to see a thai dance show with traditional dances from different parts of Thailand! The show was great but what made this part the best was the food!! Best food we ate on the whole trip! And believe me that is saying something! There was so much amazing food in the north! I gained 1.5 kilograms in just 10 days! I really need to exercise more!
Me and my buddies!
What made this trip even better was having the outbound students with us! We really got to know the student who will be coming to our countries in just a few months! During the trip everyone was paired with a buddy! The Thai people had a foreign buddy and us foreigners had a thai buddy! We gave each other gifts and got to know each other through out the trip!
There was also a girl who will be in my rotary district! I hope she is near Olympia!
Up next is the district conference where all the YEs have to perform our thai dance. Wish me luck!

Monday, April 6, 2015

No breaks

This month I get no breaks! It's only the 7th and I'm exhausted! After getting home from the rotary trip on the first, my host mom told me I would be switching host families at 6pm. So I am now back to my first host. As far as I know I will be here the rest of the year but in Thailand you never know for sure.
After packing and moving all my stuff I did get one day to just relax and for the most part sleep. On Friday I got have a new experience. I went to the crocodile farm at 7am to help clean and store the crocodile eggs. It was cool try but I really don't want to know what the goo covering my hands was!
Saturday was back to go go go! I went to Bangkok early in the morning for thai dance class. We (all the YE for this year and next year) practiced our dance routine for six hours! Most of us were ready to be done at three hours! After class most of us went to check out a huge book fair and I found 3 new books! YAY!
Since we all had to stay in Bangkok that night for class the next morning, most of us decided to stay at Hector's house (the YE from Mexico). There were 16 exchange student in one house! So much fun! We ate a ton of pizza and chip, the guys taught me how to use a video game remote and kicked my butt at the game we were playing, and just hung out together!
Sunday was another six hours of dancing! I was ready to drop by the end! After that I went shoe shopping with a couple other girls and found some really cute sandals on sale! That night we all crashed as soon as we got back to Hector's!
Finally on Monday I made the journey back home! Amazing to think that I can take a taxi to the bus station then a two hour bus ride for less than $6. I love how cheap stuff is in Thailand!
Now I get to spend two days at home before I go on the next adventure up north for Songkran Festival in Chang Mai!

Friday, April 3, 2015

To the South!

I have spent this last week on a super fun trip to the South (again)! But this one was way better because we had all 21 exchange students together! We had so much fun just because we were all together and the activities helped too!
Over the course of the week we visited 8 islands, stayed at 4 hotels, went snorkeling 3 times, ate some great food, did a lot of shopping, and got very little sleep! And this is just scratching the surface!
The first day we visited 5 islands! We also went snorkeling twice! It was so much fun! And everyone had a sunburn because no one thought to put on sunscreen! Yes, we are all geniuses (sarcasm). Most of our trip was spent swimming in different locations. Our second day we went to swim at the emerald pool and a natural hot spring! Chloe (YE from France) and I went on a short but beautiful hike to get back from the emerald pool.
We spent day three at a Muslim village on an island about an hour from the mainland. We visited the school and played games with the kids! People who live on this island almost never leave! I can't imagine living on an island my whole life!

The last two days we spent in Phuket! We had so much fun there! There was the beach, shopping, and we went to Phe Phe Island for a day! We also went to see a very interesting dance show! It was interesting because part way through the story, in the middle of the dramatic scene set in the ancient forest of Thailand, they did a magic show. Not that the magic show wasn't cool and amazing, but the timing left us all asking what the hack was that?
During the week we didn't get a lot of sleep. Every night we would stay up talking, playing games, and hanging out! It was fun but left us all rather dead each morning when we got our 6am wake up calls!
Most the time, when we weren't eating at the hotel, we ate a buffets. Cause where else are you going to feed 21 hungry teens! :D The food on this trip was great though! I think I gained my exchange weight from this trip alone!
And we only had two people drop their phones in water! Lucky I wasn't one of them!
So much fun and much more to come! With everything that's going on right now I'm sure you'll hear from me again soon! Love you all!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Unexpected Trip

Last week I was just sitting helping some of the teachers with packing up the school for summer when my host mom called me. She said "Jenny. Tomorrow you go to South with Danielle. Pack bag for 3 days." It was quite the surprise but I wasn't going to argue. But before I could pack we all left to go to dinner with my host's extended family. Then when we returned she told me I actually need to pack for 5 days!
Of the five day trip, 3.5 of those days were spent traveling to and from the South. Turns out it takes a long time to drive to Hat Yai from Lopburi. A very long time! On the second day we were driving there we stopped in the morning to go kayaking! I guess they thought I had never done this before because they put me at the front of the guide's kayak. It was funny because the rotary people we were with didn't seem to know what they were doing as they tried to avoid the trees!
Once actually got to Hat Yai we spent a day going to a mountain top temple and shopping in a really old city I can't remember the name of! It was so beautiful there! I love how gorgeous the South is! Before leaving on the fourth day we went a bit farther south for swimming and snorkeling! We went from island to island swimming in the bright and clear blue ocean! We even swam through a cave at one point and there was a lagoon on the other side! So cool!
After this we started to looooong drive back home. I do not recommend sleeping in a van. It is not the best way to get a good night sleep and it guarantees a sore neck!
I got to spend two day at home after this and now I'm off to the South once more for the Rotary bus trip with all the other exchange students! So excited.
This next month is going to be crazy! Two Rotary trip, three dance classes, and a Rotary District conference! So much happening!
(Incase your wondering about the dance classes, the exchange student s have to learn classic thai dancing to perform at the district conference.)
Well I'm off to the South now! I'll tell you about it when I get return!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Taxi Troubles

After having my third ride in a bad taxi, I thought I would write about things you should know about thai taxis. This will probably only interest you if you are going to be an exchange student in Thailand,  are going on vacation in Thailand, or if you like reading blogs about taxis.
Here's what I've learned from my experiences:

1. Avoid taking a taxi as much as possible
Take the skytrain, subway, or bus. Walk if you can. But only take a taxi if you must!

2. If you are alone or with just one other person, take a motorcycle taxi
Motorcycle taxis are cheaper, faster, and, as hard to believe as it may be, safer.

3. Always settle the price before getting in the taxi
This is super important! If you don't do this, you may end up yelling in english at a thai driver for trying to make you pay 6000 baht ($200) for driving 3 blocks. This rule applies to regular taxis, motorcycle taxis, and tuktuks.

4. Don't take a tuktuk
Yes, they are fun to try once and they are good if you want to have a personal tour guide around the city. But tuktuks are expensive, slow, and usually take you to an expensive shop that gives the driver free stuff if you shop there.

5. Listen to that little voice in the back of your head
If something about the taxi or driver makes your spidey-sense tingle, then trust that feeling. There are fake taxis that look very real and motorcycle drivers with similar vests to taxi drivers. (Real motor taxi drivers wear orange vests.) Keep a look out and get out of the taxi if something doesn't feel right.

6. Always get the number
Each taxi and motorcycle taxi driver has a number. In a taxi its on the drivers card and each motor taxi driver has a number on their orange vest. Remember this number so if something goes wrong or they try to scam you, you can report them. Tuktuks don't have a number but they do have a license plate so you can get that instead. (If there is no number don't get in/on the taxi.)

7. Know the right direction
Taxi drivers will tell you they know a place even if they don't. They just want to get you in the taxi so they can get paid. Plus many places have similar names (ex. Lumpini Park and Lumpini Center). So make sure you know which direction you should be going in to avoid being taken to the wrong destination.

That's about it! Not all taxis are bad but as a foreigner, you will be seen as easy to trick or confuse. So just to be safe, try to remember these rules if you are traveling in Thailand.
Till next time!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The End...Of School!

As of Saturday, March 1st, I am finished with my thai studies. At least the in class ones. Technically I was finished on February 19th because the last six days of school were finals which I did not take. It was a rather sad day. While I am happy not to have to sit in nine classes a day, most of which I did absolutely nothing in, I will miss seeing my thai friends everyday. They've been such a huge part of my year and have taught me as much thai culture and language as my teacher has! I'll still hangout with my closer friends but some of them I probably won't see again. At least I have literally hundreds of pictures to remember them by!
My class was super sweet in saying goodbye to me. At the end of the day we all went to the school market and after a while I noticed that everyone had left except Beer. So we ate our food then went to look for our friends. We got to our main classroom and everyone was there holding letters that spelled GOOD LUCK JENNY! and singing! It was so sweat and I even cried! The weird thing though, was that they were all wearing masks of my face! It was a little creepy to see 22 of me! After they finished singing we took a million pictures together!
Some of you might notice that I said I finished school on a Saturday. This is because I went with my class to math and science camp at a tech university. I'm sure the subjects were very interesting but lectures about entomology, astronomy, and physics are still a little outside my language level! But the time I spent with my friends was fun! Plus, I got a new name! It seems the camp people didn't know I was coming but one of the girls from my class didn't come so they gave me her name tag. So for the weekend I was Ni News.
Now that I have 3.5 months of summer I'm not sure what I'll do but I'm sure I'll have lots of fun! This month we have the YE trip to the South and next month we have the trip in the North! It's going to be great to have all the exchange students together!
And for anyone who is curious, I have scheduled my return ticket. I will be arriving in Seattle on June 18th just 2 hours after I leave Bangkok! Gotta love time zones!

Monday, February 9, 2015

My week of little sleep

This last week has been crazy and fun and exhausting! I got less sleep this week than any other week I've been here. Sure, I've had a night or two with little or no sleep but never a good eight nights!

(Me on the restaurant's sign!)
AT about 5pm Diego's first host came and told me we leave in 5min. So I grab my bag and go. We first go to a sushi buffet because Diego really wanted sushi! Then we went to a cowboy themed fair! It was super fun! We ate junk food, saw motorcycles and a pickup drive on a wall (video on Facebook), and bought cowboy hats and shirt! So fun! But we got home at 2am and had school in the morning!
Well four hours of sleep made it rather difficult to stay awake in class but I made it through the day. Then around 7pm, Diego's first host asked if we wanted to go get pizza. Of course! What teenager doesn't want pizza! So we go to Saraburi to get pizza and do some shopping. And once again we get back super late! Then for some reason I can't recall, I needed to Skype with my parents so I went to sleep around 2am again!
(Diego at the cow farm on the way to rally)
I was running on nothing but caffeine! Coffee, coffee, coffee until I could get to my room to take a nap! But I had to stay up super late again! This time was unexpected but I needed to make a call to the SAT people to resolve an issue with my test sign up. But to make this call I had to wait until 11:30am PST or 2:30am my time! It took a half hour to talk with them and I'm not sure I was totally coherent. I finally went to sleep at 3am!
I seriously considered skipping school but didn't because Wednesday is my favorite day.  But I ended up fell asleep in most my classes. You'd think it would be time for a break but that night Diego and I, along with another student, Anna, went to Bangkok for a goodbye dinner for Reily. She left yesterday morning :( But we didn't get to Bangkok until about 9pm then had dinner and hangout together! We ended up getting home around 3am. Another night with little sleep!
I didn't go to school because I was going to Bangkok to see my Grandma and her boyfriend. It was great to see her and talk all day! We went shopping in Siam Square, saw Erawan Shrine, and I had them try a ton of thai snacks! After they left I went with three of my exchange friends for massages and real talian pizza! It was totally what I needed! Then Anna and I went to spend the night at Reily's house. Of course, when you put three teen girls in one room, you don't get a ton of sleep and we had to get up early to go to the BTS. It was totally with it though!

Though I had to get up early so I could get home, I was able to sleep nice and early that night! Finally!
After going to sleep early I had to wake up at 5am! Why? Because this weekend was Rotary Rally! I was still tired but it was pretty fun! We were in teams by car and had to do challenges on the way to Kaoyhai! Once there Diego and I got to go swimming and ride bikes and play with some of the kids! That night we had cowboy nights we got dressed up and went to the hoedown! But it was pretty boring so we went off on our own to just hang. When we got back to the rooms we realized we didn't have to key so we had to wait outside until someone came back!

It was a busy and sleepless week but super fun! And I get the feeling this won't be my last time with little sleep with school ending in three weeks and the rotary trips coming up! Can't wait!!

Friday, January 23, 2015

What's goin' on?

Amazing how normal things become after a while! Five months ago things like seeing an elephant in town, going to Bangkok for a few day to hang with friends, or riding a motorcycle seemed crazy to me! Now it's just everyday life! And my thai has gotten so much better!! I can usually understand what people tell me and reply; I'm no longer lost all the time. It feels like everything is coming together here and there's no way I'm gonna want to leave in another five months! Can everyone just come stay with me here instead?
So my life has been pretty routine in the past month with my second host family. Going to school (most days), playing basketball or badminton after school with the kids at my home, eating dinner with the teacher's who live here, and going to Zumba most nights with my host mom! It's the same everyday but I never get bored, there's just no time to be.
Last weekend was "Mid-Year Counseling" for all the exchange students. I was supposed to go to Hua Hin with my host family and all the teachers at the school where I live but Rotary said it was mandatory for me to be at the meeting! I was a bit bummed but I got to stay in Bangkok with Emily for four days which helped make up for it! Thursday and Friday we didn't want to go to school so we hung out around Bangkok and met some other exchange students for dinner! There was one part of the day on friday we got lost and were running to catch the next train and I had the joy of falling down a flight of stairs, but I was mostly fine! On Saturday we went to stay at our friend Reily's house. That night we went to Khao San for shopping, tacos, and our friend got a tattoo!
Sunday was the "counseling" which was really just all the YEs talking together and eating pizza, only stopping to listen to the Rotary president welcome us. There was also a thai speech contest and I was one of the top ten students and won a rotary backpack! Not bad for righting my speech at midnight the night before! ;)

Overall it was fun and great to have everyone together! I went back home with the student from Mexico who live in the same city as me! We got to my house and found out that we have the same second host! He switched hosts on Monday and lives four rooms down from me! It's cool to have another exchange student here and he's fun to play basketball with!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

OMG! 2015!!

                                       Happy New Years! 
This ginger bread house has
real cookies!
Wow! Can you believe it's been five months since I came to Thailand! Because I can't! This year is flying by and before I know it I'll be getting ready to go home! I only have five and a half more months!!! Well, on to other news.
So Christmas came but it didn't really feel like Christmas with everyone else in school and work. As planned, I went to Bangkok to visit Emily and we went to a Christmas diner with a ton of foreigners who happened to be traveling in Bangkok on Christmas. It was fun to talk with them all about their traveling and they seemed shocked that we are only 17 and living in a foreign country for a year! This was Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day we mostly slept and hung out. I Skyped my awesome family back
home and opened some presents they sent me! Emily and I also went to see Night at the Museum 3 which was surprisingly good for a third movie!
On the 26th was Rotary Day! All the RYE in my district were there and it was super fun to hangout with them all! We did a show in the talent competition and did so well that we didn't even place! But we had too much fun to care! We performed in the morning so for the rest of the time we just messed around! My favorite part was the water fight! The great thing about water fights here is that you dry rather quickly and don't mind being soaked because it's so hot here! :)
After Rotary Day Emily came to stay at my house for the weekend because she had nothing better to do! We didn't really do anything but it was great to have another American around!
For New Years I want with the people who I think will be my third host family to visit their extended family. I don't know the name of the place we went but their house was right by the Bing River! This meant that I got to not only swim in the river for most the day but I also got to BATHE in a RIVER!
(it probably wasn't the best way to get clean but it was cool to try.) Since there were so many people at the house some of us camped in the front yard and as hard as it may be to believe, it          did feel cold! I never imagined I'd wish for a coat in Thailand!
On the 2nd we left the river house and went to visit the other side of the family! This time I got to sleep inside and on a bed! I spent most of my time entertaining my 2 year old host cousin since he immediately liked me! Plus, he doesn't talk much which I was totally fine with!
Now I'm back home and tomorrow I have school. :( As much as I like school here, getting up at 6:30AM is just not something I will ever enjoy. But I only have about two more months of school before I'm finished for the year (haha I finish in march and don't start again till September!) So I think I'll make it!
Until next time! I love and miss you all!